Col speeds off to new coaching gig

PREMIERSHIP-winning coach Col Speed has announced he will be leaving the Grafton Ghosts to take up an assistant coaching position with the Mackay Cutters next season.

Speed has agreed to a one-year deal with the Queensland Intrust Super Cup side which is coached by Anthony Seibold, who is a close friend of Speed.

The Ghosts' head coach leaves a lasting legacy at the club after guiding them to two premierships and back-to-back Clayton Cups.

According to Speed the decision to leave the Ghosts after four years at the helm was not an easy one and involved many sleepless nights.

"It was a tough decision and I can tell you I've never been so nervous as when I walked up Joe Kinnane's front steps to give him the news," Speed told the Examiner yesterday.

"But it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and with coaching you always have plenty to learn.

"Mackay is an environment where I can further my coaching and usually nine times out of 10 jobs like these go to former NRL players."

Speed admitted the trip up to Mackay was well worth it and added he was blown away by the facilities at the Cutters.

"The one thing which nailed it for me was the professionalism of the club," he said.

"And I feel comfortable in the role Anthony has given me ... it's very much hands on.

"They train four nights a week and I suppose the other thing I'll have to get used to is every away game is by plane.

"The facilities are first-class and they have a brand new stadium which is regarded as the best in the Intrust Cup."

Speed took over the head coaching role at the Ghosts in 2008, taking them to a grand final appearance, something he admits was one of his proudest moments during his tenure at the club.

"In 2008 we proved the critics wrong, making it to the grand final; it was a classic underdog tag," he recalled.

"And this season was a huge achievement winning the grand final after losing six key players.

"Another proud thing is the friendships I've made and seeing the players go from boys to men, on and off the field."

Speed said apart from his new coaching role he will be kept busy developing players at the local high school where he has been given a full-time position as a teacher's aid.

When asked about how the Ghosts will manage without his direction as first-grade coach Speed said he was confident the club would continue to prosper.

"I might have steered the ship but a lot of credit must go to Michael Rogan, the committee and all the coaching staff who were always loyal," he said.

"I'm sure they will have plenty of success in the future."

Speed and head coach Seibold could have their work cut out in 2012 after the Cutters finished ninth on the ladder this season with eight wins, a draw and 13 losses.

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